Friday, December 21, 2007


The next couple of weeks are going to be crunch time, with duties split between Christmas visitin' and inking twenty-something pages of the "Jumper" graphic novel, Jumpscars.
Brian Hurtt's pencils are gorgeous, as usual. He's the artist behind The Damned, a twenties/mob story set in a mix of Hell and Chicago. Check it out! He's one of my favorite artists these days, giving mainstream projects that hint of cartooning that they so often lack, to their own detriment.

I've also been remiss about replying to my e-mails lately, being extremely busy... anyone has hasn't received a response, just sit tight... I'll get to it soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back from Portland

I'm back from Portland, Oregon, where I've spent the last two weeks! As part of my MFA requirements, I needed a field internship, and the good folks at Oni Press (publishers of my forthcoming graphic novel series) allowed me to do it with them.

I stayed with Oni editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones and his family, and they were so hospitable, really making me feel like family the whole time I was there. Jen is a great cook, so I ate like a king the whole time.

A breakdown of what I did there:

• Helped out (and ransacked a bunch of books) from the Oni Office

Here's James (in the back) and Randy (in the front), doing their editorial duty

• Played a lot with Zadie, who, at five, is the youngest member of the Jones household

• I spent a couple of afternoons catching up on Crogan's Vengeance at Periscope Studios, where Jeff Parker, Colleen Coover, and a host of other remarkable comic-folk do their thing. It was great - reference books everywhere, shop talk, food carts across the street, etc.

A shot of the studio

Jeff and Colleen

Ron hard at work

• I got a tour of the
Dark Horse offices. Big staff and a fancy building, and with a statue of Usagi at the reception's desk... if that doesn't put you in good spirits, well, then you probably shouldn't be there.

• I flatted a bunch of pages for the "Jumper" graphic novel, to aid in the coloring process

• I spent almost two days at Powell's, a used bookstore the size of a city block and perhaps my favorite store on Earth

• Read a BUNCH of graphic novels. I'm pretty bad about keeping up-to-date, but I read a bunch of James' books (their house is stacked with 'em) - here's a partial list of what I can remember:
American Born Chinese, Black Diamond Detective Agency, the Plain Janes, CCS's Houdini, the Salon, Tales from the Farm (Oh, I saw Brett and Leigh at Top Shelf, too), The Maxx vol. VI: Friends of Maxx, The Three Paradoxes, Fox Bunny Funnies, Vampire Loves, Salamander Dreams, Garage Band, and my hands-down-gotta-get-a-copy-for-myself-favorite, Sam Hiti's Tiempos Finales. I've only seen Hiti's drawings, never his comics (remember, I never know anything until well after everyone else knows it). GET THIS BOOK (the big orange version). Just wait for me to get it first.

• Did the "First Thursday" gallery hop with Joe, the Oni Man Upstairs

• Went to a Hanukkah party at Greg Rucka's and Jen Van Meter's. Greg has the coolest basement studio EVER. EVER. Plus the food was really good, and Jen took the time to explain to me the symbolic meanings of the foods prepared (again, SO good)

• I got back in time for my 27th birthday! That's right, I'm 27. Out of the mid-twenties, and into the late twenties. Woo! I got a drill (to customize my drawing table), a copy of George MacDonald Fraser's WWII Burmese memoirs, Flight of the Conchords, volume 1 of Young Indiana Jones, a bathroom scale, a ledger, and a Christmas shirt! What a haul.

Also, upon returning, I discovered that my big inkjet printer (on which I print my pencils in blue line) no longer works. So I've been at a semi-standstill, and have used the time to relax and watch a couple of those Young Indiana Jones episodes. While watching, I took the time to customize and paint a few miniature soldiers, shown here next to my pocket-knife for scale (these are REALLY tiny):

I turned some WWI Ottoman machine gunners into British Empire-era Aphgan Hillfolk with a machine gun; turned a couple of Wellington's staff members into Arab riders, and turned an Ancients Elephant into an Empire-era hunting elephant, complete with rider (slightly modified Zulu Wars Officer). I made all the elephant back accoutrements from scratch - it was a lot of fun.

I want to make a few miniature dioramas, but I've neither the space or the time, currently, but I am going to build a foreign legion fort as a tool for staging scenes in the next Crogan's book, so I'll have to make time for that. Ha!

This is one of my non-comic related nerdy hobbies, of which I have quite a few.

Anyway, I'm going to be updating my website considerably sometime in the extremely near future... keep an eye on the comics page for complete stories, including The Hero, Regina Rich, Middle School Detective, and maybe a couple of others, plus lots of new illustrations, posters, etc.

Oh, and since I mentioned Young Indiana Jones before, I want to gripe for a second. Once again, George Lucas has stuck his clumsy revisionist hands into something that doesn't need fixing. The episodes no longer have the intros with George Hall playing elderly Indiana; instead, there's a condescending narration by some overly enthusiastic kid purporting to be young Indy -- the first episode's intro seemed so bad that I thought "Man, was it really this bad? I remembered it being better," which luckily it was once we got past the ever-present Lucas tampering. Why can't you leave well-enough alone, George Lucas? Why do you have to make wonderful things and then ruin them later? Luckily, this one isn't ruined beyond repair, just a little clumsy at the beginning. I expect that the Harrison Ford intro (which used to be called "the Mystery of the Blues," not sure if it still is) is also gone. Oh, well. Granted, the kid actors in the old intros are eye-goungingly bad, but it's still better than the new version.

I'm also not a fan of the chronological setup, instead of the way-they-were-aired setup; the second part of the "curse of the jackal (now called "my first adventure" - barf) is gonna be some ten-fifteen episodes later, I'd reckon. So shame on Lucasfilm for AGAIN changing things better left alone; that said, I am EXTREMELY glad that these are once more available.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Youngest fan, + sketches

My aunt Kristen sent this to me yesterday. Ubercutie Iain Brannon (my cousin Allie's son) likes Crogan's. Woo!

Also, while I was vacationing for Thanksgiving, I did a few more sketches and plot treatments for the next Crogan's installment. I'm not posting all of them, as some give away key plot points, but here are a few that are spoiler-free.

I also sketched Frank Sellous, the 19th/early 20th century big-game hunter...

and the first Voldemort I've ever drawn that is even semi-scary:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Indy samples

I did some audition samples for some sketch cards today. Here they are!

Henry Jones, Sr - 5x7 on Bristol Board (sorry 'bout the side being cropped - I always forget that blogger crops anything over 400 pixels)

A member of the brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword - 4x6 on Bristol Board

Did 'em with the pocket brush pen filled with Holbein black, and colored with the Faber-Castell brush markers. Very pleased with how they turned out.

If you want to buy the originals, I'll sell 'em at we-just-forked-over-hundreds-of-dollars-to-make-our-old-car-meet-the-
now-we-could-use-holiday-money prices. $25 for the rifleman, $50 for the Sean Connery. Shoot me an e-mail if you're interested.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A month's worth o' stuff

Wow, it's been nigh on a month since I last updated this thing. Sorry! it's been a busy few weeks. First, I finally finished the second "chapter" of Crogan's Vengeance. This chapter was almost all exposition, which requires a lot of work in order to make it interesting/exciting. I think that I succeeded (or at least I hope that I have), but it sure took longer than expected. Though there will be rises and falls, the rest of the book is a lot more action-oriented and plot-driven, and that's always a lot easier to stage. Here's a panel from one of the pages:

I later drew the villain of the book, a cruel fella named D'or, a little more realistically than I generally do, just as a sketchbook exercise.

So Crogan's has been the big time-consumer. We HAVE had some R & R, though -- Liz and I took our first trip to the Atlanta Zoo, which is a really good one. I've always been wary of big-city zoos, because the best zoo I've ever been to was the small one in Alexandria, Louisiana, and my first bigger one (Nashville) was such a huge step down. This one definitely measures up, though, and we had a great time. The baby gorillas are the highlight, no question. Here's a couple of pictures:

Oh, I guess it's obvious from the pic, but I chopped off my mop of curls.

A couple of weekends ago, Shawn Crystal recommended me to artist supply sales rep Mike Grecian as someone who could help out with demos at the Artfolio event at Binders, the art supply store that I use for anything remotely comic related. I'm usually disinclined to do anything salesman-related, as I don't like lying to people and have always felt that pushy sales is almost a form of fraud, but Mike represents the best products that you can get -- Faber-Castell for pens and colors, Holbein for inks and paints, Escoda for Brushes -- and so I had no qualms about extolling their virtues to everyone who wanted a demo. Anybody who hangs around me knows that I'm always trying to push new tools on them any time I find ones that I love, and of the some twenty tools that I regular use, eighteen of them are handled by Mike. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to do a tools blog soon, so I'll try and get that up over the next week or so.

Since I was demonstrating a lot of media that I usually don't use - watercolors, oils, gauche, etc - I got to play around a lot more than usual, and now I'm more inclined than ever to start using colors in my drawings. Here's an Indiana Jones sketch that I did (Adam Hughes and Allison Sohn were there, too, and were telling me about an upcoming Indy sketch card thing, which got me excited to try some stuff out):

It was done with the PITT artist pens, the Faber-Castell Watercolor pencils, and the blues were put in with their new pro-grade water-soluble oil. that's right: WATER-SOLUBLE OIL PAINT. Who'd have believed it, huh?

Anyway, the demo went great, I had a fantastic time, and Mike was ridiculously generous with passing on the demo materials to me afterwards. One of the things he gave me was a set of the Faber-Castell Color Brush pens. I LOVE these, but haven't ever bought more than a couple at a time for tones because they aren't "essential" for my comic stuff. They're great for doing color tests. James asked for a book order not too long ago, and this is helping me flush that out, in terms of spine covers. Here's part of a page from the sketchbook:

I also knocked out some X-Men, just for the heck of it.

This last weekend was the Comics Art Forum in Savannah, one of SCAD's big events for the Sequential Art Department. This year we had Jeff Parker, Jill Thompson, Chris Brunner, Kazimir Strzepek, Heidi Arnhold, Mark Schultz, and a few others. I rode up with Shawn, Chris Brunner, and Cara M., and the event was loads of fun. I took a workshop with Jeff Parker, and his talking about working on the Fantastic Four with Weiringo got me thinking about how I'd do the FF... here's a sketch that gives a fair idea.

There was lots of eating and drinking and general merriment, and I got a hold of the much-touted Leo Geo mini-comic by John Chad. It's amazing. Find it. I can't find a web-site address for him, but if you want a copy I'll pass on his e-mail if he says it's all right.

The last night was spent in Kaz's room. Here are some pics:

Coleman in his Zissou hat, Kaz in a tie

Jeremy and John Chad

Two Blue eyed Swiss boys: Kevin Burkhalter and yours truly

Andrew Greenstone and Alex Bullett of the Danger Park collective

Nate and Jarrett at the SA building

Chris B. at the panel

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Comic - what format?

I spent this year's 24-hour comic day writing and pencilling a big chunk of a larger project - A Dangerous Man: Why Andrew Jackson was the Meanest, Rottenest, No-Good Son of a Gun what Ever Became President. I'm not sure exactly what to do with it - I inked a page today as a sample and then played around with it a bit in the computer. I'm not sure if I want to try and get it published (it'll be some 100 pages or so upon completion), publish it myself as a small book to sell direct, or make it a web-comic and simply collect it later. Were the latter the case, I could play around with color like this. Anyway, Andrew Jackson was a horrible, horrible man. I hope that, whatever this project's venue, his despotic and cruel ways will be brought to light for a generation that knows him only as the guy on the twenty dollar bill.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Back from S.P.X.!!!

SPX was last weekend, and I had a GREAT time. Hunter Clark and I we took a train up instead of flying, because Liz found us a great buy-one-get-one-free deal with Amtrak. The train took off more than four hours late, but it wasn't too bad. We were both so tired that we slept through pretty much the whole ride. Though we DID see an old guy who looked like the late Pat Morita at the station.

The train had SOOOOOO much legroom. I never want to fly again. Trains are the least-stressful manner of travel that I've ever used. Anyway, we got into D.C. Thursday around Noon, and met up with Shawn Crystal shortly thereafter for lunch and a big chat about teaching, the SCAD sequential art department, upcoming classes, rising star students, and that sort of thing. Later that day we hooked up with our editors James Lucas Jones and Randy Jenkins (Shawn, Hunter, and I are all publishing through Oni. James bought us a great dinner at this little Italian place, and then we went to Big Planet Comics, where a bunch of the creators went for an open-house/pre-party. Big Planet is a GREAT store. Smaller than my regular store in Atlanta, but with a selection better suited to my reading inclinations. Plus an all-ages section right by the front of the store, which I'm a BIG proponent of.

Hunter and Shawn left early, but James and I stayed and caught a ride back to the hotel with Brett Warnock and Matt Wagner, who had a car.

The next day Shawn and Hunter and I had breakfast, and on the way back into the hotel to set up our table we ran into some of the SCAD alum/CCS crowd. We split off and went with them for second breakfast.

Stephen Floyd, Bearded Joey Weiser, Me, and David Yoder

Starting at the head of the table, and going clockwise - Kyle, Hunter, J. P. Coovert, Stephen Floyd, David Yoder, James Hindle, and the almost totally-obscurred Joe Lambert (whose stories in the Fluke Anthology and the SPX anthology were probably my favorite pieces this show)

We rushed back afterwards to set up our tables. Our spot was bad - the back of the room at a corner whose aisleway led into a wall. But we were okay with it, as we were surrounded by friends - Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing, Joey Weiser, Kevin Burkhalter, David Yoder, Alec Longstreth, and Patrick Dean, and a lot of the amazing SCAD up-and-comer undergrads like Jeremy and Coleman - as well as folks we liked a lot but hadn't gotten a chance to really get to know - Liz Prince, Maris Wicks, Marcos Perez, etc.

Eleanor Davis, Greg Means, and Alec Longstreth

Kevin Burkhalter and Kyle, whose last name I don't know 'cause he's mysterious

We were going to take a picture of us at the table, but my camera battery died and my charger had broken getting off the train.

I had a great time. We did see tons of friends and had a really great time, and I was surprised during the last few minutes of the show by some relatives - my Grandmother, my Aunt Samantha, my Uncles Matt and David, and my cousins John and Luke. We ate at a great Asian buffet, and I pigged out on Sushi.

I came off well in the black - I sold out of Giovanni Potatoes, and sold a lot of other minis (made a lot of trades, too!). Unfortunately, that's ALL I did. I spent last year combing the aisles and getting tons of cool stuff; this year I was so busy at the table that I didn't have a CHANCE to search for cool stuff. Luckily, a lot of it found me, but I got no book-books, aside from Oni books that I grabbed at the end. And I didn't take advantage of some of the amazing work that WAS there - I got a drawing from the AMAZING Roger Langridge, but never got back to purchase wares - he had a ton of amazing minis, and I'm kicking myself for it. I need to make sure that next year I give myself an hour each day to peruse.

Sorry to have such a short entry, and that it came so late - I was sick upon return, and then the internet was down for a while, so it's been rough trying to get this up! All is better now, though.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Off to S.P.X. in Bethesda, MD!

Well, it's finally arrived - tomorrow Hunter and I board the train to Washington, D.C. for the Small Press Expo, perhaps the most anticipated annual event of the indie/alternative comics world. I'm really, really excited, and have been for weeks.

Liz made me prepare early this year, because I tend to stay up all night two or three nights before each event in order to get ready for it - not this time. My minis have been done for weeks. Huzzah! I drew and printed them, and Liz put them together (with the exception of the Giovannis, which she cut and I assembled) while we watched T.V. I never, EVER would have gotten as much done without her help.

Since we're ahead, we've also been helping to assemble some of Hunter's books. Here's Liz, hard at work.

So this year, here are the wares!

Giovanni Potatoe and the Pizzas of Love, co-done with my dad, composer and mystery novelist Mark Schweizer. Just a little bigger than a business card, this four-volume, 300-page rhyming mini-comic comes in a right purty slipcase. A very limited number, so get this one early, before they sell out!

Regina Rich, Middle School Detective. Regina's best friend is accused of stealing the choir fundraiser money! Can Regina prove his innocence? 24 pages, full color

Portraits Volume I: Authors of Adventure Literature. A sixteen page mini-gallery of some of my favorite high adventure/historical fiction writers. B&W.

Shoot the Moon. Around thirty or so small comic memoirs about me and the missus, crammed into eight pages of mini-comic yumminess. B&W.

The Goodbye Beard. A short comic about shaving off a beard. This is the way that every guy does it. If he tells you different, he's a fibber. Color on linen.

• Prints!!! New 24-hour comic day poster, Crogan family trees, and tons of postcards.

• Original art! I'll have some pages, portraits, drawings, etc, at very reasonable prices. Plus I'll be happy to draw in your sketchbook, etc.

• Although I won't be selling any at my table, AWESOME, the Indie Spinner Rack anthology, will be premiering at SPX. It'll be for sale at the Indie Spinner Rack & Evil Twin Publishing tables. I've got a short story called "The Hero" in it. The book is chock full of new work by some AMAZING cartoonists, including Roger Langridge, Raina Telgemeir, Kazimir Strzepek, Alec Longstreth, and many more!

That's it, I 'spose. Oh! I got a set of what I consider to be Harvey Kurtzman's best stuff - Two Fisted Tales, in black and white! Shawn Crystal showed me these editions a while back - they're flat out gorgeous, reproduced in black and white so that you can see exactly what the artist did. The stories are great, the art is amazing (most of it), and it really plays up the adventure. A four-volume set - I got it on eBay!

Anyway, my table number is 42. If you're there, go in through the front doors and we're near the back right-hand corner, in the same area as a number of other SCAD alums - Eleanor Davis, Drew Weing, Kevin Burkhalter, Coleman, Joey Weiser, David Yoder, etc. Should be fun!

And speaking of SCAD, I may have an essay here soon. I've been thinking a lot about the role of the cartoonist as an artist, what the responsibilities and expectations are (i.e. how work-for-hire comes in to play, if it's okay to change one's style/voice for a job, etc). So keep an eye open, and remind me if I forget, which I likely will.

Monday, September 24, 2007

P.S... My dad is so ridiculously awesome.

The love of pirates is an inherited trait with me. My dad got me hooked on 'em at an extremely early age, and he still loves 'em as much as I do.

In addition his many musical and literary projects, he has also taken to playing with the liturgy of the Episcopal/Anglican church. One of his more recent creations? The Pirate Eucharist.

And guess what. The Archbishop of Canterbury - the HEAD of the Anglican and Episcopal churches - the "pope of the protestants" - a position held by such esteemed historical figures as St. Thomas a'Becket and St. Augustine - will be participating in my dad's service.

Read an article about it here.

My dad is so cool.

Back from the Top Shelf Warehouse; Tampa

Here's a close up of part of the poster I'm doing for 24-hour comics day.

Man! It's been a busy week. I need to be better about updating this...

A week ago me, Hunter, and Allen Spetnagel went to the Top Shelf warehouse to help publisher extraordinare Chris Staros with a big shipment of samplers. Top Shelf is a great publisher and was one of the big reasons I became a cartoonist; I'm sure many of my peers could say the same. We spent a big part of the day stuffing envelopes and packing boxes, etc. Afterwards Staros took us out to dinner and got heaping amounts of delicious Thai food. I'd never eaten Thai before, and loved it. I also got some books - Matt Kindt's 2 Sisters and SuperSpy, and Jeffrey Brown's The Incredible Changebots.

This weekend Liz and I went to Tampa, where I presided over the wedding of my sister Lindy and her now-husband Ryan.

• Me, Ryan, and Lindy at the wedding •

We had a great time, I got to swim in the ocean, we saw a fire-eater, etc.

• Liz and me on the Clearwater Pier •

Ryan's a great guy, and he and my sister seem to make each other very, very happy, so I'm very glad to welcome him into the family.

• Me and my lil' sister •

I also finished Regina Rich! Expect copies at SPX.

Tomorrow is my first "real" lecture with the Introduction to Sequential Art class. It's on character design. I'm expecting it to go well, but cross your fingers for me!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Making more stuff for SPX...

Sorry it's been so very, very long since I last updated the blog. I've had a lot of stuff going on lately -- mostly it's been getting minis printed and assembled for SPX with Liz. I had a week of pretty much no drawing, but it worked out well - I've got twenty copies of Giovanni Potatoe and the Pizzas of Love, eighty portrait books, about a hundred Goodbye Beards, etc. Lots of fun stuff to sell and trade. I've also decided, since I'm so far ahead of what I expected to be, to redraw and color my 24-hour comic from last year. It'll be twenty-four pages, color. I knocked out these pages yesterday - consider it a sneak preview.

*edit: thanks to Sarah Case and Daniel Crawley for pointing out the typo - on page three "you" should be "your." I'm not gonna bother reuploading it here, but it will be fixed in the print edition. Thanks, guys!

I've also been doing a TON of color sketchbook drawings, but I lost my sketchbook on Friday, so no scans. I'm only cavalier about it because I expect it to turn up; I helped man the Sequential Art table at SCAD's major fair, and left it there. I didn't return until later, when everyone was gone and everything with them. I'm hoping one of the professors took it with them. I forgot to write my name in it anywhere, which was idiotic of me.

I'm currently assistant teaching my first class at SCAD - Introduction to Sequential Art. It seems like a good crop of students - four girls and a guy, which surprises me, considering the traditional gender inequity in the comics field. I'm also taking an advanced inking technique class with veteran inker Roy Richardson, and it's a really good class mix.

Aside from that, not a ton of new stuff. More portraits, new comic ideas, all sorts of fun stuff. Oh, and Liz and I are taking a surprise trip to Tampa on Friday!